On This Day – March 31st


Today in 1836, the literary world was treated to the first monthly installment of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Charles Dickens published this serial under pseudonym of Boz at just 24 years old. Another early 20s successful writer. Although to compare myself with Charles Dickens would be a prime example of hubris run amok. The man was a genius.

I think the lesson I am learning from seeing these authors become successful so young is that I need to step up my game and focus on writing more and procrastinating less. You might see some gaps in this series from time to time. It isn’t because I am not writing my Gentle Readers, but mainly because nothing from that day really spoke to me. For now, I’m going to work on my own creative projects. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.


On This Day – March 30th

This day in 1820 welcomed into the world a woman whose single work, published near the end of her life, is beloved by children the world over.


Anne Sewell wrote the book to speak out against cruelty to horses during her lifetime. Black Beauty, narrated by the namesake horse, speaks of mistreatment after mistreatment. Sewell showed incredible courage in speaking out against animal cruelty.

To write something of such profound social importance is a dream come true, but sadly Sewell never got to see the impact of her work as she died in 1878, shortly after Black Beauty was published. The book would go on to be made into a movie 3 times.

I can only hope to one day have such an impact on the world as Sewell did. I ask all of you, if you could write something that would have the kind of widespread success and impact as Sewell’s book, what would you speak out against? Hunger? Poverty? Corrupt politicians? Sound off in the comments my Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 26th

It was on this day in 1920 that a career was launched. F. Scott Fitzgerald became the youngest author published by Scribner’s with the release of his work:


Fitzgerald sought literary fame as a way of winning the affections of Zelda Sayre, the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice. Zelda didn’t think Fitzgerald could support her, hence his quest for literary fame. He was an overnight success, however he still couldn’t manage to support the lifestyle they both desired after their marriage. Fitzgerald and Zelda even fled to Europe in an effort to cut back and pay down their debts.

Though his later work, The Great Gatsby, would be a success, Fitzgerald would see a decline in his popularity with his short stories and further work not resonating with his audience.

If Fitzgerald can become a success at 23, then I am a decade behind on where I should be. Other than a few poems I have never written anything to impress someone, however, and maybe that is my problem? I generally write because I cannot get the story out of my head. What about you my Gentle Readers? Sign off in the comments. What makes you put pen/pencil to paper, or put fingers to keys? Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 25th

Today, in 1955, the US Government launched the first volley in its latest attempts at censorship by seizing 520 copies of “Howl” based on obscenity charges.

The poet was Allen Ginsberg.

I confess that I never had the pleasure of reading Howl. I must have been living under a rock to have also missed the 2010 movie. Hopefully I can find it on Netflix or something. As for the poem, I was able to find parts 1 and 2 on Poets.org

This is some powerful stuff from a generation that shouted against the conventional norms of the time. To speak so openly about drugs and sex brought the ire of the conservatives in power at the time. To think just 60 years ago. what Ginsberg wrote was considered so horribly obscene that it required a governmental assault to try and keep it away from the public.  Now we have things like Miley Cyrus and parents taking their 8 year olds to see R rated films. Have we become so desensitized to shock that we laugh at this instead of the horror expressed just 60 years ago.

I ask you my Gentle Readers, did we lose sight somewhere along the way of the creative art and simply keep escalating the shock value in our work? When did we stop pushing the envelope and start napalming it? I know it might sound hypocritical for me to applaud Ginsberg but condemn Cyrus. However, I am not sure that we can put them in the same category. What is the purpose of Cyrus acting as she did? Maybe it is hypocritical of me.  Maybe I should stop this trainwreck while I have some shred of credibility as an artist left.

Keep pushing the envelope my Gentle Readers, but have a purpose. Be opening the eyes of closeminded people, not just seeking attention for shock value. Until next time. Live well, Write well, Be well.

On This Day – March 24th

Though his birthday is 2 days away my Gentle Readers, today belongs to Tennessee Williams. His highly successful and Pulitzer Prize winning play, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, opened on this day in 1955 in New York City.

Tennessee Williams was a child of an abusive traveling salesman and an overly controlling mother. It is believed he used his family, especially his mother and beloved sister Rose, as the basis for characters in multiple works.

Williams, though alcoholism and drug use eventually took his life, was a picture of overcoming obstacles in order to succeed. Though he was pulled from school to work for his demanding and demeaning father, Williams would return to school, eventually earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from University of Iowa in 1938. He took great care of his mentally ill sister Rose, especially after her disastrous lobotomy administered as a cure for her schizophrenia.

In Williams we learn that you can overcome any obstacle, but beware the demons you allow entry into your heart. Williams went from being a favored punching bag of his father, to a very successful playwright. It is unfortunate that his later years would be claimed by alcohol and drugs.

Seek to overcome the doubts, naysayers, and those holding you back from your dreams my Gentle Readers. Just take care that you do not fall victim to what you were trying to overcome. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 23rd

This day Gentle Readers brings us another wildly successful author. Though he is not as prolific as yesterday’s authors, today would still be a good birthday to share.

ThomasHarris.jpg Thomas Harris was born this day in 1940 in the town of Jackson, Tennessee. He would move as a child to Mississippi. Thomas is famous for creating the iconic connoisseur of human flesh, Hannibal Lector. Like his creation, Harris is a fantastic chef and purveyor of fine wines. He has even taken the grueling Le Cordon Bleu exams. Not much else is known about this supremely private storyteller, as he has not granted an interview since 1976 and avoids publicity like the plague.

To be able to pick the brain of the man that created such a fascinating character as Hannibal would be a dream of mine. However, I am sure he will not break his media silence any time soon, even for a fellow southerner such as myself. A guy can dream though right?

Happy Birthday Thomas Harris, may your meal be delicious and your wine perfect on this day. May I suggest a nice red?

I think Thomas proves that you don’t have to write a hundred novels to be successful. All it takes is that one character who will live on in literary, and in Hannibal’s case Hollywood, history. Go find your character my Gentle Readers. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 22nd

If your birthday is today Gentle Readers, I suggest you write that masterpiece you have been dreaming of because you share a birthday with two highly successful and prolific writers.

Louis_L'Amour.jpg Our first author of the day came to us in 1908 from Jamestown, North Dakota. Louis L’Amour was the seventh son of a local veterinarian, politician, and farm equipment broker. Louis grew up with an avid love of reading born from extensive time spent in the library. Though he left school at age 15, Louis went on to try his hand at many careers. After World War II, he sat down to seriously try his hand as a writer. He drew from his own personal experience, as well as extensive research, to craft realistic and historically accurate novels that would launch his career. His short story, The Gift of Cochise, was read and loved by John Wayne. Wayne would purchase the screen rights and the character Hondo Lane was born. In all, Louis has over 100 novels, 250 short stories, and many poetry collections to his credit. His work is still in print and sales topped well over 200 million before his death to lung cancer in 1988.

jamespatterson Our second author of the day is one I am sure that most readers know, whether they love him or hate him. James Patterson, prolific writer and philanthropist, was born on this day in 1947 in Newburgh, New York. No one can refute that Patterson is wildly successful. His critics, who include Stephen King, are critical of his abilities as a writer because of the number of co-authored books he has published. My understanding is that all of his co-authors are provided detailed outlines, and he revises all chapters himself anyway. Personally, I saw go for it, as long as he is giving credit to his co-authors. I wouldn’t turn him down if he wanted to collaborate on a project. So, if you are reading this James, drop me an email and let’s chat about our next project, OK?

Either of these authors make great role models for hard work and perseverance. Their dedication to the craft of storytelling is legendary. Happy Birthday to them both today.

Make your own legends my Gentle Readers. Be the L’Amour or Patterson of whatever it is you want to do in life. Be it writing related, or just the best in your chosen field. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 20th


On this day in 1852, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published to immediate success. Harriet Beecher Stowe (pictured above by Alanson Fisher’s work in the National Gallery) wrote this compelling picture of slavery after the death of her son, Samuel Charles Stowe. Though she and her husband had been quite vocal against slavery, even supporting the Underground Railroad, it was this loss that motivated Harriet to speak out in such a way. She is quoted as stating, “Having experienced losing someone so close to me, I can sympathize with all the poor, powerless slaves at the unjust auctions. You will always be in my heart Samuel Charles Stowe.”

Uncle Tom’s Cabin began as a serial published in the National Era. From her home, Stowe would host groups of friends and students to discuss the book as it progressed. The initial printing of 5,000 by John P. Jewett sold out almost immediately. The work would go on to sell 300,000 copies in less than half a year. It became the book the North Abolitionists praised, and the Southern Slave Owners despised.

Stowe, a champion for abolition, would continue to fight long after the Civil War. This time for women’s rights, especially when it pertained to marriage property rights. At the time a married woman owned no property or had any wealth, all fortunes belonging to her husband.

Stowe, a woman of some privilege and upbringing, was a voice for change over much of her adult life in a time where women were not accorded as much opportunity and standing. I think this shows that no matter how small we think our voice may be, it can have an impact on society. Maybe the next thing you write will be this century’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. What cause would you champion if you could?

Until next time my Gentle Readers. Live well, write well, be well.

On This Day – March 19th


Today my Gentle Readers, we learn a lesson from the great French playwright and novelist, Honoré de Balzac. It was on this day in 1842 that Balzac’s play Les Ressources de Quinola opened to an empty house due to a failed publicity stunt. It seems that in his genius, Balzac told people opening night was sold out in order to create buzz about the performance. Due to this, all of his fans stayed home.

I can only imagine the shame and embarrassment Balzac must have felt when the curtain went up on what should have been a momentous night for him. Although, from what I have read of his many failed business ventures, maybe he was used to that kind of thing. Can any of you imagine what it must have been like to go through this? Thinking you had a perfect marketing ploy for it to completely blow up in your face?

I think this is how a lot of us feel when we stake out on a creative adventure. I know this feeling that I would “open to an empty house” is part of why I took so long to begin sharing my work with the world. While a few of my endeavors have fallen flat, there has been some very positive reviews of my work as well. Finding strength in the constructive criticism seems to be the hardest part of fighting off doubt.

I vote we take a page out of Balzac’s book my Gentle Readers and go for it all. Don’t let the naysayers or past failures stop you from trying new things or chasing your dreams. Because, in the end, what are we left with but our memories and experiences? Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.


On This Day – March 16th

An icon of American Literature was published on this day in 1850.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter would become required reading over a century later (at least I remember it as such). When he published it however, it was finally the means to financial success for his growing family. Hawthorne had struggled up to this point, even trying his hands at an agricultural coop (which he turned into his novel The Blithedale Romanc, and spending time working in a Customs house in order to support his family.

Hawthorne was born in Salem Massachusetts. The 100 years since the actual witch trials had left a heavy pall across the town, influencing much of Hawthorne’s early years. After he started to see marginal success in 1842, he married Sophia Peabody and moved to Concord, Massachusetts. There he became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Branson Alcott, father of writer Louisa May Alcott.

A few years after the publication of The Scarlet Letter, President Franklin Pierce, a college friend of Hawthorne’s, would make him the American consul to England. His family would live ‘across the pond’ for three years, before returning stateside. He would later leave die in Plymouth, New Hampshire in 1864.

The story told by Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter is sadly all too true in this world today. Adultery doesn’t carry quite the same shame and stigma experienced in this country’s infancy, but it should. If you are not capable of holding onto your promises, then it is best to not get married in the first place. Find where you belong my Gentle Readers, and stay out of someone else’s relationship. It never ends well. Until next time. Live well, write well, be well.